16 September 2001

Yesterday went pretty much as tentatively planned. I got to see both Tim and Heather, although Heather had other social engagements halfway through. I was going to wait until she got home, but then I realized that I had no idea when that would be. Mark and I didn't play cards, just stayed around home here in the evening. Had nummy fajitas with sweet red peppers and fresh tomatoes from Mark's boss' garden. Mmmm.

And I read Silverhair. My land. Avoid that book, if you possibly can. It was horrible. Awful. It may have been the worst book I've ever read. It's certainly the worst book I've read in a long time. If it hadn't been so short, I would have quit many times over. It was trying to be The Bunny Book for woolly mammoths, but it was much, much worse than The Bunny Book. I can somehow in the darkest recesses of my brain see why someone might like The Bunny Book -- and, in fact, people I otherwise respect do so. (The Bunny Book is Watership Down, by the way, and I have disliked very few books more.) But I cannot fathom a way in which anyone would like Silverhair.

That said, if anybody in the Bay Area would like it, you're more than welcome; otherwise, I believe we'll be selling it to a used bookstore if we can. Timprov got it for $1 back in, er, April? so we're not expecting much for it. Ugh. After that, I started reading The Lying Stones of Marrakech (Stephen Jay Gould) and The Elementals (A. S. Byatt -- the last of my birthday presents to read -- I sigh). And did edits on Reprogramming (woohoo!) and wrote a scene on "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boy, With Aliens," which is a collab Timprov and I are doing about René Magritte as a child. With, of course, aliens. We had been stuck on it for awhile, so I was glad to get unstuck, and I hope Timprov likes the way I unstuck it.

See, we were doing the "write until you can't write any more, then turn it over to me" school of collaboration. It worked for Steve Brust and Megan Lindholm when they were writing The Gypsy. But we both got stuck at the same time, so it got put on hold. It's not urgent for any reason -- not suitable for any anthologies, not written under contract -- but I like this story, and I like working with Timprov, so I hope we can get it done eventually.

Anyway. This morning after church, Mark and I went to the Puppies and Beer Festival in Lafayette. They called it the Art and Wine Festival, but I petted puppies and Mark drank beer. No wine at all. We did buy some art, though: a glass paperweight for my aunt Ellen (if you're reading this, Cath, don't tell her, it's a surprise), silver loopy earrings for me, and a photograph for the hallway. (It's the Mountain Huang II one, but it doesn't come off as well on the net as in print.) And the Lafayette Public Library had a mini book sale, so we nabbed Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet for 50 cents. I like Lafayette. Very dog-friendly town.

Yesterday when I went up to Oakland, I had my hair in a braid, which was unusual, and I noticed how differently I act and how differently people treat me when I have my hair done differently. My "norm" right now is long, loose, wavy hair. What I call "hippie hair." (Lizzie thought I meant "dreads" or "unwashed" by that. No, not real hippie hair. Suburban pseudo-hippie hair.) And it's hard to say how people treat that, because it's what I'm used to, but I get more attention that way, and more of it is positive, proportionally. I'm more outgoing with my hair down, which is funny, because one of the things long, loose hair is good for is hiding. But since I have that backup option, I don't have to use it as much, I think.

(Oh, hey, and speaking of which, any of you-all in the Bay Area do easy long-hair haircuts? I need an inch off the bottom, just straight across, and would prefer not to pay an arm and a leg for it. Let me know.)

When I put my hair in a ponytail (norm for most of college), I'm closest to "competent girlgeek" mode. People are most likely to assume I can fix what's wrong, whatever it is. When I put my hair in one braid, I'm quietest, feeling most fragile and most likely to be treated that way. Most serious. This is why I noticed it yesterday: I was in serious mode, glasses and braid, and when someone gratuitously stopped to let me cross where there was no crosswalk, I automatically flashed a full smile at the driver, and he looked profoundly startled. It didn't "match." When I put my hair in two braids, I'm going swimming -- otherwise I just don't. I did it once and stumbled into someone's schoolgirl imagery, and I prefer not to do that again. But it is a younger look/feel.

Why am I sharing all this? Because I'm thinking about the girls and women who wear a hijab in their daily life, who have been told that it might not be a good idea to do so just now. I'm wondering how it must feel to them, how different, like they're somebody else, maybe, or just like a different part of the personality has come to the fore. I wonder if some of them have ways of trying to feel more "covered" -- braids, headbands, something. I wonder how many traditional Christian American women could make themselves go topless if that's what it took to make themselves safe in a crazy country. I wonder how many understand that that's the equivalent of what traditional Muslim American women are being asked to do.

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